03 September 2010

Nivers: 3d organ book available

My typesetting of “Troisième livre d’orgue des huit tons de l’eglise” can be downloaded from imslp. This edition may be easier to read than the period sources, but the music has not been simplified in any way. I highly recommend finding one of the facsimile editions and studying the original publications; the rhythmic freedom of the pieces is much more apparent. Also, those editions often include extremely helpful essays in their introductions.

Feel free to post comments here about errors and other lapses.


  1. Anonymous2/10/10 07:59

    I guess I'm one of the three people on the planet who care. I've just finished printing out the Nivers on my laser printer. Next step is to take it to the church copier and copy it double sided. Third, it's off to Kinko's for a spiral binding and plastic covers. Finally, to play through all the movements on my new 13-stop tracker (yes, it has a cornet and 2 reeds)! Thank you for all your work.
    Michael Menne
    Crofton, MD

  2. Thank you for all your hard work. I was rather surprised, though that there don't seem to be pedal parts, even in the slow movements, is not this unusual for the time?

    1. In this collection, the pedal is somewhat ad libitum, occasionally specified but never notated separately. In the first Prélude, some might play that last D in the bass on the pedal coupled to the Great and with some pedal stops as well. A less rigorous stylist might even use the pedalboard for the lowest voice starting in m25.

      Take a look at Dialogue de Récits of Tone I (p16). Depending on the instrument, I (certainly one of those less rigorous types) would likely couple the jeu doux to the pedals and play the lower staff with two feet, keeping the cornet and cromhorne on separate manuals. Indeed, such an arrangement is hinted at in the Dialogue de Récits on page 30.

      Less subtle use of the pedal would be in the various Dialogues à 2 chœurs, where one might double the bass of the sections played on the Great with a pedal stop or two.

      Generally, though, this is pre-Bach: pedalboards were flat, straight, of limited range, and often very tightly spaced. Pedal virtuosity was not the point. Still, if it improves your technique and expressivity, why not play a Récit with the melody in the pedal? And if you want to use that Récit as the basis for a lounge piano improv, then hallelujah, let the music live!

      Thanks for the interest. I encourage you to also look at the facsimiles of the original publication to really understand the flexibility of the rhythms and strengthen your clef-reading (and transposition at sight). Fuzeau published a facsimile edition in 1992 which is especially valuable for the front-matter.